Will people be dying in Puerto Rico?


Also, a cable star's Trump-like song of herself:
Are people dying in Puerto Rico?

It seems to us that they probably are. It sounds to us like the situation may get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.

It sounds to us like the situation may get extremely bad. That said, a certain major cable news star decided to start her program last night by providing us with an 18-minute PEP—a Partisan Entertainment Product.

Her tribally pleasing PEP concerned the cost of those cabinet members' plane trips. At the start of last night's TV show, before saying a word about Puerto Rico, she spent more than eighteen minutes on this comparatively trivial topic.

Along the way, as she mugged and clowned and made us feel tribally good and pure, she made a trivial error, as you can see below:
MADDOW (9/29/17): But there's more. There's also Trump's Veterans Affairs chief and his wife, who taxpayers apparently just paid to send on a ten-day European vacation—sorry, "work trip"—that included a championship tennis match at Wimbledon.

And I do mean championship. It was the women's final. We're talking Serena Williams.

The trip also included a tour of Westminster Abbey and a river cruise down the Thames and a canal tour in Copenhagen, where they saw the Little Mermaid statue, and trips to four separate palaces. In the middle of this trip, Trump's V.A. secretary reportedly had four straight days with no daytime business whatsoever on the calendar.

They were very efficient though. Clearly, he and his wife made the most of it. Four palaces is a lot. The Washington Post points out tonight that Secretary Shulkin took this whole taxpayer-funded shebang less than two weeks after he signed a memo for other staff at the V.A., telling them to please review their plan to travel, to determine if it was really truly necessary.

Quote, "I expect this will result in decreased employee travel and generate savings with the department." Signed, Secretary Shulkin.

So he signs that, and then on his way out the door, "Bye, got to go, I've got—I'm going to four different palaces and I'm going to see Serena Williams. I'm going to Wimbledon. Now, you guys get these travel costs under control. I got to go. My wife's waiting."
According to that Post report, the VA Secretary had attended a multi-nation meeting his predecessors have attended in the past. Along the way, it does seem that he and his wife squeezed a bit of a taxpayer-funded vacation out of the deal, although the Post doesn't yet seem to know, in full, who actually paid for what.

(Concerning the four days "with no daytime business whatsoever," the cable star gave it to you that way because, according to the Post there was some night-time business on two of those four nights.)

This pleasing report about Secretary Shulkin was one small part of the longer PEP with which the cable star opened her TV program. That said, as you can see, the cable star had made a trivial error:

This year's Wimbledon women's final featured Venus Williams, not Serena. The cable star got that wrong!

This error was utterly trivial. There was no gigantic need to correct the error at all, but the cable star lovingly did so.

She corrected it after an interview with Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico's largest city. The cable star had interviewed Cruz for less than seven minutes, after playing tape of Cruz's anguished statements from earlier in the day.

"We are dying," Cruz had said. Interviewed live, she made the same statement to the cable star, saying that she was sending a literal SOS to the rest of the world.

For ourselves, we would have been interested in a more careful analysis of how bad the situation in Puerto Rico is likely to get. (We're thinking of disease, and the absence of water and food, and the inevitable crime which results from such deprivations.) Instead, the cable star returned from a commercial break to provide us consumers with an appalling, spectacularly stupid, highly typical song-of-herself.

As she staged her histrionic self-correction, the cable star continued a years-long con, in which she impresses us with her assiduous devotion to accurate facts. She also engaged in her favorite pastime—talking about herself.

This is where the cable star went after listening to the mayor's anguished SOS:
MADDOW: Sorry. I need to make a correction from the top of the show.

[Seeming to whine]

It's Friday. There was one whole night this week when I didn't get any sleep because my back hurt, and then I got like the knock-on effect, where you're not really tired the next day, but you're tired the day after.


So, that's my excuse. Here's what I screwed up:

I said at the top of the show that when the Veterans Affairs chief went to Wimbledon this year, Serena Williams was playing in the women's final. Here's what I have to correct:

The Veterans Affairs chief and his wife did take a taxpayer-funded, ten-day European trip that did include trips to four different palaces, and a tour of Westminster Abbey, and a river cruise and a canal cruise, and four straight days with no scheduled events in the middle of their European vacation, I mean "work trip."

And the Veterans secretary did, on this taxpayer-funded trip with his wife to Europe, he did go to Wimbledon, where he did see a championship match, and it was the ladies' final, and it was one of the Williams sisters in the final.

But it wasn't Serena. It was Venus. And I need to watch my tennis, clearly.

My mistake. My apologies. Very sorry.

We'll be right back.
As you can see, before we got our pointless correction, we got our PEP all over again. We also got the usual dose of consultant-instructed hand jive and all-around silly-bill mugging. And we got to learn that the cable star had suffered a sleepless night because her back hurt!

If you want to see the mugging and clowning which accompanied this song-of-self, you can do so here, though you'll be forced to watch a lot of corporate commercials. You should click ahead to the short segment around the 32-minute mark.

That said, we had several reactions to this presentation:

Many people have said that Donald J. Trump seems unable to demonstrate concern about the specter of death all over Puerto Rico.

We had a similar thought about this cable star as we watched her performance. Her interview with the mayor had been deeply sobering. She moved directly into her trademark mugging, clowning and messaging, with her standard talk about her favorite topic, herself.

This cable star has been playing these games for a very long time now. Mercifully, she no longer posts her DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS sign when she stages her trivial self-corrections. But she continues the general practice, which seems designed to make us (mistakenly) think that she's a stickler for accurate facts.

She continues to love discussing herself. Next to playing videotape of herself, we'd call it her favorite pastime.

Beyond that, we were struck by the callousness of the juxtaposition of segments. The mayor's (literal) SOS had been deeply sobering. The cable star moved directly into this silly sponge bath inflicted upon herself, with us invited to watch.

Massive wealth and massive fame have often been highly destructive. In our view, this cable star often seems a bit like Donald J. Trump. Is our increasingly tribalized band simply too starstruck to see this?

DYING PLANETS: We know what she did last summer!


Part 4—Actually, long before that:
Is a river a person?

More specifically, could the Monongahela River sue someone in court?

In Wednesday morning's New York Times, Julie Turkewitz wrote a full-length news report about these intriguing questions. Her report appeared on the first page of the newspaper's National section.

Inevitably, Turkewitz quoted a Republican politician—Montana's Senator Daines—saying how crazy this idea was, and a Democratic politician—Colorado's Govewrnor Hickenlooper—who was refusing to comment.

She also quoted a Harvard professor saying the intriguing legal claim faces "an uphill battle." All in all, that's the sort of battle a river's unlikely to win, unless the river's allowed to sue gravity along with everyone else.

Go ahead! Treat yourself to Turkewitz's report! It exposes us to the sort of service we liberals often receive from our brightest assistant professors—silly claims which cause most people to shake their heads, for perfectly obvious reasons.

(Warning: Your lizard brain will tell you to search for a way to agree with this sh*t.)

As our assistant professors spout, the public comes to believe that we liberals are perhaps just a tiny bit kooky. Many of these issues today concern matters of gender or race, but in this one battle, the assistant professors are challenging the hidebound idea that rivers and lakes aren't persons.

Will this land turn out to be their land? Everything is possible! Along the way, we keep dividing our 330 million human persons into two disconnected tribes appalled by the views of The Others.

In the next few weeks, we hope to discuss some of the ways our assistant professors keep adding to this problem. For today, let's return to one of the ways our liberal journalists have doomed us, here on our dying liberal planet, to decades of puzzling defeat.

This past Tuesday, David Brooks wrote an excellent column about our society's two disconnected "planets." On that same page, Michelle Goldberg, in her debut column, wrote a somewhat similar piece, saying 1) that we have become two "countries" and 2) that the smaller of these countries tends to get the bulk of the political power under current arrangements.

We thought both columns were well worth reading. We also saw an ironic twist to Goldberg's new role at the Times. You see, we recall what she did last summer—rather, in the spring of the previous year.

It was April 24, 2015. The White House campaign had barely begun. The campaign of Donald J. Trump was still a gleam in The Big Crazy's eye.

(If only the Rockies had sued!)

On that morning, the New York Times published one of the longest and strangest "news reports" of the entire campaign. It was a 4400-word, slashing attack against Candidate Hillary Clinton, concerning her imagined role in an imagined Scary Uranium Deal.

The sprawling report was based on work by a right-wing nut—a right-wing nut who was being funded by Steve Bannon! The current president, Donald J. Trump, still refers to the stupid claims the New York Times published that day.

Why had the New York Times entered into an arrangement with that right-wing propagandist? We can't answer that. But the arrangement had now produced a blatantly bogus news report—and Goldberg joined with TV's Chris Hayes to call the report a "bombshell."

Hayes and Goldberg could have taken a different approach. They could have said, "There they go again," like President Reagan of old. They could have told viewers about decades of anti-Clinton jihad by the Times, dating to the invention of the Whitewater pseudo-scandal.

The fiery liberals didn't do that. Instead, they called the blatantly foolish report a "bombshell."

We can't tell you why the fiery liberals did that, but we've been discussing a larger pattern for many years. It's as we've always told you:

Liberal and mainstream journalistic careers run through the New York Times! For that reason, career liberals have never been willing to tell you about the long, strange jihad the paper has run against Clinton, Clinton and Gore.

The children have minded their p's and their q's every step of the way. Crazy news reports go unmentioned, or they even get praised. Decades of lunacy by Maureen Dowd couldn't be mentioned either.

Dearest darlings, use your heads! Such things simply aren't done!

(Careers also run through NBC News and its cable arms. That's why you've never seen a report about the years of crazy anti-Clinton, anti-Gore work by the baldly misogynistic Chris Matthews. Instead, he's sold to you as Rachel's dear friend and favorite political analyst! Rachel loved Greta's work too!)
The Times had published a crazy report—a report which started on page one and ran 4400 words.

All the others chose to ignore it; Hayes and Goldberg called it a bombshell. Trump still pimps its manifest bullshit today.

No one was willing to tell you the truth about that crazy, Bannon-fueled "news report." And much as we have long explained, Goldberg is now a columnist for that same New York Times!

Her first column was very strong. We hope she writes many more.

She doesn't hail from the 1950s-style "gender throwback" school of the silly, simpering Collins and the hiss-spitting Dowd. We hope she writes a lot of great columns. But one nagging thought will intrude:

We may know what she did that spring! We may know how she got there.

A final question: A final question goes to you:

Why did you hear from no one at all about that Bannon-funded report, the one to which Donald J. Trump still refers? No really—why did you see zero push-back from our big liberal stars as the Times helped Mr. Trump make his way to the White House?

Why did none of our heroes fight? At long last, defeated liberals, it's time we asked ourselves that.

Two planets diverged in a yellow wood. As has become appallingly clear, you can't run a country this way!

Vanessa Friedman brings the war home!


The Times, stylistically woke:
We've just watched Part 9 of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick Vietnam film.

All in all, Part 9 was hard to watch. Hard to read? That would be Vanessa Friedman's report from the current round of Paris fashion shows. The report appeared in this morning's hard-copy Times.

We'd have to refer to this work as obscene. It appears beneath an obscene headline:
What Does a ‘Woke Woman’ Wear?
No, we're not making that up. After a bit of early piddle, Friedman climbs into the saddle:
FRIEDMAN (9/28/17): You’ve got to hand it to the designer Maria Grazia Chiuri—she stands her ground. There’s no waffling here. Whatever the voices whispering in her ear are saying, she does not let them sway her from what she believes. When she joined Dior as its first female artistic director just over a year ago, she picked up the banner of feminism and has been waving it enthusiastically ever since: delving into its literature, discovering its heroines and using them as muses in her shows, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Georgia O’Keeffe and Amelia Earhart.

It should have made her the perfect designer for these “woke women” times. The problem is the disconnect between the inspiration and its expression.
So true! Chiuri should be fabulous for these woke times! Thoughtfully, though, Friedman lays out the the disconnect between the inspiration and its expression:
FRIEDMAN (continuing directly): As consistently as she has stuck to her agenda, she has stuck to her separates: couture denim—this season in patchworks of different faded washes and weaves—and Dior-branded underthings: big pants and little bras, reimagined in wide marinière stripes (or jailhouse ones, depending on your reference point), most often worn under sheer tulle ballet skirts. Also the corset top and the character cashmere knit, this time with the dragons, spiders and snakes that marked the work of Ms. Saint Phalle.

But what feminist, even a millennial one, wants to wear a mirrored mosaic onesie in bright pink or blue under a transparent tulle skirt open to the waist that looks like nothing so much as Madonna in her “Desperately Seeking Susan” years? Or a white cotton version over a polka dot shirt with a swiss dot skirt below and a white jacket over it all, as if to give new meaning to the term play suit? These are not the clothes of revolution, even New Look revolution.
Say you want a revolution? There's nothing woke about wearing a white cotton onesie over a polka dot shirt with a swiss dot skirt below and a white jacket over it all!

Chiuri has stuck to her separates—and yet! As Eliot so thoughtfully mused, between the inspiration and its expression falls the shadow.

Part 9 of the Burns/Novick film features footage we didn't know existed—footage of the 9-year-old Vietnamese girl who ran down the road in the famous photograph after having her clothing, and much of her skin, burned away by a napalm attack.

We didn't know there was film of her preternatural calm as several photojournalists later came to her aid. Somewhat similarly, we barely knew there could be foppish, upper-class bad faith of the type the New York Times is willing to churn in such regular fashion.

As we sit on the eve of destruction, that piece by Friedman is obscene. When a nation's major newspaper, and its subscribers, tolerate such obscenity, that nation has silently volunteered for one, two, many Donald J. Trumps.

DYING PLANETS: In the absence of skillful political leaders!


Part 3—We turn to professional athletes:
We've often thought that LeBron James—he's a professional athlete—is almost preternaturally mature.

He went from being a high school senior straight into the NBA. He scored 25 points in his first game, has barely received a parking ticket in the years since.

At age 25, he handled his departure from his home-town team fairly poorly. But let's be fair, if only this once:

Not counting Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life, how many people, at age 25 or below, have ever had to navigate the pressure of saving his home town?

We regard James as something resembling a model citizen. When he said, this Monday, that he'd spent the summer with his two sons (and their youth basketball teams) and his daughter, it sounded to us like he was probably telling the truth.

That said, LeBron James is a professional athlete. He's not the U.N. ambassador. Neither is Colin Kaepernick. Therein lies a problem.

Over Here, on our liberal planet, we tend to be convinced of our tribal greatness. It's hard for us to see how poor our tribal leadership actually is. But in the absence of skilled "professional" leadership, we're forced to turn to professional athletes to exercise leadership on difficult "culture war" topics.

That brngs us to something James said in Monday's lengthy press conference. First, though, let's talk about Hillary Clinton, who has always pretty much lacked the "political gene."

Once again, let's be fair. Most people, by and large, "lack the political gene." When people become transcendent political leaders, it's because they have important abilities which everybody else lacks.

Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, was widely praised for his political abilities. By and large, Hillary Clinton, like most people, has tended to lack that political gene. Consider what she said, in January 1992, on that 60 Minutes special.

Good God! In a lunatic press event, Gennifer Flowers had accused Bill Clinton of conducting a torrid, twelve-year love affair with her bombshell self. We will guess that Hillary Clinton knew this was total crap.

Gennifer Flowers made oodles of money pimping this unlikely claim. The Clintons were forced to appear on a special broadcast of 60 Minutes—right after the 1992 Super Bowl game!

Did we mention the fact that this CBS special aired right after the Super Bowl? Tens of millions of American men had been drinking beer since 6 AM. Had Bill Clinton said, "Yes, I blanked her, so what?" a lusty roar might well have gone up all across the nation.

Bill Clinton didn't say that. As far as we know, such a statement would have been false.

This morning, though, we're talking about what Hillary Clinton said. A fair amount of what she said did, in fact, make very good sense. But good lord! She also blurted this:
KROFT (1/26/92): I think most Americans would agree that it's very admirable that you have stayed together, that you've worked your problems out, that you seem to have reached some sort of an understanding and an arrangement. But—

BILL CLINTON: Wait a minute, wait a minute! Wait a minute! You're looking at two people who love each other. This is not an arrangement or an understanding. This is a marriage. That's a very different thing.

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I'm not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together. And, you know, if that's not enough for people, then, heck, don't vote for him.
Steve Kroft had his nose in the underwear drawer. (The Clintons had reached "an arrangement!") But alas! With her remark about Tammy Wynette, that one Clinton took the bait.

"Then heck, don't vote for him?" That was a sound political move. But we recall being very surprised by the Wynette reference:

"How could the long-standing first lady of a Southern state make a statement like that?" we inquired. And sure enough, Hillary Clinton had to spend a chunk of time explaining away what she'd said. Given the way our journalism and politics work, the clumsy statement has followed her down through the annals of time.

Was anything really so horribly "wrong" with what she said that night? Truthfully, no—unless your husband is running for office, in which case you're doomed to spend a chunk of time cleaning up what you had said, and you're going to lose some votes, perhaps even decades hence.

Hillary Clinton's tone of annoyance that night seemed to come from a real person. But it also came from a person who lacked the political gene.

Twenty-five years later, that same person has written a book explaining why she lost last year's election to Donald J. Trump. (She received 2.9 million more votes than the winner.) We're still reading that book, but we've already been blown away by several things she has said.

Hillary Clinton just keeps insisting that half the people who voted against her are "deplorable," perhaps "irredeemable." In her book, she bases that astounding assessment on a bunch of embarrassing non-evidence evidence.

Then too, there's what she says at the start of her "Sisterhood" chapter. We just started reading that chapter this morning. Go ahead! Read pages 112-115.

In those few pages, you'll see it again. You'll see Clinton blaming "the American electorate" for the fact that she lost last year. She says she wishes that we had a better, more receptive electorate. ""But that's not who we are. Not yet," she amazingly says.

We hope to discuss that tone-deaf passage at greater length at some point. But in those pages, you see Clinton fall prey to one of the deeply flawed political instincts which infest our "liberal" planet.

We meritocratic liberals! Again and again and again and again, we're committed to the proposition that the American people haven't quite managed to rise to the level of our own vast insight and our obvious moral greatness.

It's the oldest instinct in the "human" playbook, the source of our millions of wars. This instinct deeply infests our self-impressed tribe. It represents one of the most significant ways we insistently practice to lose.

There have been times when our liberal tribe has had "professional" leadership which was astoundingly brilliant. Rosa Parks was astoundingly brilliant. So was Dr. King.

At this time, such leadership doesn't exist. As a result, we liberals turn to 28-year-old quarterbacks to engineer our important crusades.

This is profoundly foolish. Even someone as preternaturally mature as LeBron James shouldn't be thrown in that patch, unless we self-impressed liberals simply don't care whether we win or lose.

Doggone it! On Monday afternoon, we watched all of James' press conference. He discussed our nation's latest culture war at some length.

He said a lot of perfectly sensible things. His frameworks were much more politically savvy than those we've been seeing in many other places.

That said, James is a professional athlete, not a U.N. ambassador. At one point, he got a perfectly sensible question, and he fumbled his response in the way our tribe is inclined to do.

Below, you see the question he was asked. It came from Steve Aschburner, of NBA.com.

Aschburner's question was perfectly sensible. We'll show you the fumble below:
ASCHBURNER (9/25/17): You live and work in a state in which the majority of voters voted for the current president, some of whom, many of whom probably had valid reasons beyond his twitter account or his social graces. How do you reconcile having called that choice a mistake when many of those people are also Cavaliers fans?
Aschburner's question made perfect sense, That said, James is a professional athlete, not a professional political leader. This was his initial response:
JAMES (continuing directly): Well, I mean, that's a great question.

[Long pause]

At the end of the day, like I said, you can—


I don’t think a lot of people was educated. And I think that’s the biggest, one of the biggest problems when it becomes vote time, that people are just not educated on either the individual, or on what’s actually going on in the state of the world right now, not in that particular state, but in the state of the world. I don’t think a lot of people are educated, and they make choices and say things that’s uneducated.
On a political basis, Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ! But this is very much the way how our tribe tends to think.

(To watch that exchange, click here, move ahead to the 8:30 mark.)

To his credit, James seemed to realize that he'd headed down the wrong track. As he continued, he seemed to look for a way to take his framework back.

"And am I saying that the people of Ohio wasn’t educated?" he said as he continued. "Am I saying that some of the people in the other states that voted for him was uneducated?

"They could have been, or they could not have been. But that doesn’t mean it was the right choice," he said.

He tried to take his framework back. But this is very much the way we liberals tend to think Over Here, on our dying planet.

(Things only got worse as James continued from there.)

At present, our highly self-impressed liberal tribe boasts little political leadership. As a group, we fail to see how dumb it is to think that young, well-intentioned professional athletes should be conscripted to fill this leadership void.

"We don't have a single person to waste." That's what the Clinton who won the White House said during his upbeat campaign.

The "American electorate" was to blame, and half The Others should go straight to Hell. That's what the other Clinton is still saying in her book, after a campaign which sent our country's craziest person live and direct to the White House.

Over Here on our dying planet, we're so short on leadership that we expect young quarterbacks to provide it. Tomorrow, we'll briefly touch on the kind of leadership we get from our endless string of assistant professors—and from Michelle Goldberg, the New York Times' new columnist.

She wrote an excellent first column this Monday. But we know what she did that spring, on her way to the Times.

Tomorrow: Assistant professors and Goldberg oh my! Ways we practice to lose

Twitter board brings the war home!


Helpful ways to say goodbye to 140 friends:
We've been spending a few hours each afternoon watching the Ken Burns film about a certain well-known war—a war from the 1960s and 1970s.

This morning, finally, at long last, it seems the war has come home! We refer to the struggles being waged by the harried corporate board inside Twitter headquarters.

The thought-provoking platform for blurbs has floated a radical notion. Instead of letting users type 140 characters, the company might allow some lucky duckies to use 280 characters. According to the board, that's exactly twice as many!

Mike Isaac handled the report in the New York Times. We offer a handful of excerpts:
ISAAC (9/27/17): It is a significant moment for the 11-year-old Twitter, which has been trying to figure out how to change the social media service without alienating the people who have embraced its short format.


Twitter is now preparing for a backlash from those who might take issue with a 280-character tweet.

''We understand since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters,'' the company said. ''But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.''
It's history's oldest tale. After cheating on 140 characters, the corporate board "fell in love" with its double-the-pleasure, double-the-fun proposal for 280.

Understandably, though, the company is prepping for a "backlash" from users who have an "emotional attachment" to the smaller number. The board doesn't want to "alienate" these people.

We offer the following question:

How post-human must a life form be to serve on the board at Twitter? We also note the following offering from page A3 of today's New York Times:
Here to Help
That's right! In this morning's "Here to Help" feature, New York Times experts help us know how to stay mindful when saying good-bye "to someone you care about."

We don't want to give the whole thing away, but the helpful advice starts like this:
As you prepare to say goodbye to someone you care about, breathe in and be aware of your body and your emotions. Notice if there is any tightness in your chest, or if you are already thinking about missing the person.

Take a deep breath and instead, just try to be in the present moment with the person you are saying goodbye to. Look the person in the eye and listen to the sound of his or her voice. As you say goodbye, really listen to what the other person says.
The helpful advice proceeds from there. The feature appears beneath the famous motto for the "reimagined" page A3:
You are the dumbest people on earth.
We at the Times want to serve you.
We have our own private thought, each day, when we read the reimagined A3. We state our thought in the form of a motto:

A readership which tolerates this will end up electing a Trump.

DYING PLANETS: LeBron explains!


Part 2—In lieu of professional leaders:
"Now we're engaged in a great civil war." We believe Abraham Lincoln said that!

Alas! He could have been referring to our current state of play, which was described, in yesterday's New York Times, by two regular columnists.

David Brooks compared the nation to a set of disconnected "planets." Meanwhile, across the page, in her debut at the Times, Michelle Goldberg said we're "two nations." She explained some of the constitutional provisions which tilt our political outcomes in favor of the less populous of those nations, the one to which we liberals don't belong.

Are we engaged in a great civil war, perhaps of the "culture war" kind? In this morning's Washington Post, Chuck Culpepper describes the terrain of the latest such battle, the battle which has started to rage about the way some people have knelt during the national anthem.

Is it possible that this will turn our to be a losing war for the "blue" nation, planet and tribe? We'd say that's certainly possible, in large part because of the hapless way our hapless tribe tends to conduct our business.

Culpepper writes for the Washington Post's sports section. Concerning the culture war which now swirls around the anthem and flag, he had visited "a great battlefield of that war."

Culpepper had gone to a sports bar in Canton, Texas—population 3581, sixty miles east of Dallas. While there, he'd recorded the thoughts of various people concerning this new culture war.

Even in smallish Canton, different people have different reactions, instincts, impulses and views concerning this new culture war, the one which may end up helping Donald J. Trump and his "red" planet. For ourselves, our reactions, instincts, impressions and views tend to align with those of Lacey Stark, "a young, lifelong Cowboys fan who went to high school in nearby Van."

As Stark spoke with Culpepper, she was watching the Cowboys battle the Cardinals this past Monday night. Here's what he says she said:
CULPEPPER (9/27/17): At halftime, Lacey Stark, a young, lifelong Cowboys fan who went to high school in nearby Van, told of her experiences from a choice vantage point: In Canton, she owns a hair salon. She also aims to make her salon a beacon of the mingling of the races.

Of the NFL players kneeling, she said, “A lot of people here take offense to it. They think that it’s very disrespectful. However, I’m very different from that. I feel like a lot of people complain that a lot of celebrities don’t use their fame to do something about the problems in the world, and I think it’s a good platform for them to try to bring a lot of different unity. Whatever they can. This is what they can do. It’s bringing a lot of tension, so it’s bringing a lot of conversation. I don’t think it’s disrespectful, because out on the field, they’re not laughing at it, they’re not disrespecting it. They’re just kneeling. They’re not ignoring it. They’re just kneeling. So I don’t find it disrespectful.”
Our basic reactions tend to align with Stark's (though not in every way). Most basically, we haven't found the players' kneeling to be disrespectful either.

Indeed, we're not sure when kneeling came to be seen as a sign of disrespect. The notion could almost seem comical to us, except for the feelings, instincts and reactions of millions of people who feel differently about this fight.

One such person is Nelson Whitaker, who manages the sports bar in question and who "served in the United States Air Force from 1976-80, in San Antonio." According to Culpepper's report, Whitaker also "belongs to a group of motorcyclists called the Patriot Guard Riders, who assist with transporting the remains of fallen soldiers."

Whitaker's basic reactions and instincts differ from ours. According to Culpepper, this is how the recent events look to him:
CULPEPPER: “As far as these overpaid pro athletes disrespecting our country, it just makes me sick,” Whitaker said. He’s a fairly regular NFL watcher who envisions watching less regularly. “Right now, you know, these athletes that are on the public stage, the world stage, and disrespecting the flag and the country, I couldn’t care less about watching it now.”

He said, “When I saw what was going on, and the wide disrespect, from full teams, you know, not partaking in the national anthem as it plays before games, stuff like that, it really, it set bad on me. Because for as long as we’ve been a country, people have fought for the freedom of the country, and they’re disrespecting that. They’re able to do that and make the money that they make because of the people that have fought for the freedom of this country. Personally, I’d like to see them go to another country and pull it.

“I like it when the players were out there: both teams, on the sidelines, standing up, hand over heart, when the anthem is being played. I honestly think that 99 percent of the veterans out there would say the same thing, because they’re not just disrespecting the anthem. In my opinion, they’re disrespecting everyone that’s serving now, and everyone that has served before that.”
That isn't the way these events strike us. That said, we'll now voice a basic point we liberals tend to have a hard time formulating and accepting:

Whitaker holds the same ownership stake in the United States that we so infallibly do. By law, and by common sense, his reactions and instincts also count, the same way our reactions do, as do Stark's reactions.

To all intents and purposes, this new battle started when Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee last year. Who is Colin Kaepernick?

At the time, Kaepernick wasn't ambassador to the United Nations, nor was he a political strategist. He was a 28-year-old professional quarterback who had come within a eyelash of winning the 2013 Super Bowl. He was a superb athlete who may not have understood that political protests—however well-intentioned, however sensible on the merits—may face a serious uphill struggle when they're offered in the face of the flag and the national anthem.

Over here in our liberal nation, we've been losing to the flag for a great many years now. Way back in 1988, Candidate George H. W. Bush paraded around the country visiting flag factories and proclaiming his own vast patriotism. In the process, he massacred Candidate Dukakis, who belonged to the ACLU and who had agreed that teachers shouldn't be forced to lead their classes in reciting the pledge of allegiance.

In that instance, our own instincts, reactions and opinions aligned with those of Dukakis, who we still regard as the sanest person who ever ran for president. That said, did we mention the fact that Dukakis got massacred in the course of this earlier culture war?

"BUSH SEEKS TO SEW UP FLAG VOTE." So read the almost-comical headline which sat atop this Washington Post news report in September 1988.

Even then, members of David Brooks' "meritocrat" planet reacted the way we tend to react today, offering silly complaints which Bush cuffed aside as if they weren't even there:
HOFFMAN (9/21/88): Later, Bush told the crowd outside [the flag factory], "Since 1849, an Annin flag has flown high on January 20th every four years, presiding over the swearing-in of the president of the United States. And that's a ceremony I hope to be a part of this coming year."

Bush's American history missed the mark: The inaugural ceremony has been held in January only since 1937; before that, it was held in March.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Candidate Bush had "missed the mark" on an historical date! Unfortunately, as he made this pointless error, he was also blasting Dukakis into submission.

We don't know Colin Kaepernick. We assume he's a good, decent person.

We didn't, and don't, think his kneeling was disrespectful. (He did say and do a few other things which rather plainly were "disrespectful" and also unwise, if he wanted to win his point with the general public and effect positive change.)

We assume that Colin Kaepernick is a good, decent person. That said, he isn't a political strategist! He may not have realized the way the dust may tend to settle when the flag, and the national anthem, get tangled up in debates of this type.

Some polling in the past thirteen months has tended to suggest that Donald J. Trump may come out on the winning end of the current battle. If so, that may show us what can happen when our meritocratic planet / blue nation falls in line behind amateur political leadership.

This Monday, we watched all 43 minutes of LeBron James' press conference, in which he discussed this topic at some length. Personally, we're inclined to admire James, who we regard as a model citizen (has he ever gotten a parking ticket?) and as someone who ought to be crazy (based on a lifetime of being pandered to) but rather plainly isn't.

We regard James as a person who tends to exhibit good sense. When he said he had spent the summer with his two sons and his daughter, we tended to believe him.

That said, James is a political amateur too, like Kaepernick before him. We thought he displayed a lot of good sense during his remarks that day. Eventually, though, he was hit with the question which tends to trip us up, over here on our struggling blue planet.

At one point, James had said that people who voted for Candidate Trump last fall had made "a mistake." Uh-oh! Eventually, this question was asked:
"You live and work in a state in which the majority of voters voted for the current president, some of whom, many of whom probably had valid reasons beyond his twitter account or his social graces. How do you reconcile having called that choice a mistake when many of those people are also Cavaliers fans?"
Oof! Questions like that tend to trip us up! And sure enough! We regard James as visibly sane. But he badly fumbled his answer to Steve Aschburner's perfectly sensible question, in precisely the way we blue planet folk tend to do.

Tomorrow, we'll look at what LeBron said. We think his answer was wrong on the substance and on the politics. We think his answer also tends to explain the way our meritocratic planet / blue nation tends to lose these debates.

Our blue nation can get in trouble when it starts following amateur leaders. In fairness, our associate professors and our journalists aren't a whole lot better, leadership-wise, a point we'll note as our report proceeds.

We include Goldberg in that group. You see, we know what she did that spring, on her way to her post at the Times.

Tomorrow: What LeBron said. Also, the associate professors!

DYING PLANETS: Bookend columns in the Times!


Part 1—Explaining the rise of Trump:
We found a remarkable pair of columns today in our hard-copy New York Times.

Down the right border of the op-ed page ran a column by David Brooks. Down the left border of the page, we found the debut piece by Michelle Goldberg, the newspaper's newest columnist.

The fact that Goldberg is there at all tells a powerful story about the possible death of the planet as the American president, Donald J. Trump, seeks war with North Korea.

That said, David Brooks got there first. Quickly, let's review the column he wrote. He does a good job explaining Where We Are on this, our possible eve of destruction.

David Brooks isn't a fan of our president, Donald J. Trump. In the key passage of his column, he describes the role the fellow has played in our recent headlong descent toward the abyss:
BROOKS (9/26/17): Day by day Trump is turning us into a nation of different planets. Each planet feels more righteous about itself and is more isolated from and offended by the other planets.
Needless to say, those are statements of opinion. That said, when Brooks describes a nation of different "planets," he's discussing the units we're long described as "tribes."

Earlier in his column, he describes our political culture's two major tribes. He even describes a major flaw in the tribe to which he belongs:
BROOKS: The late 1960s were a time of intense cultural conflict, which left a lot of wreckage in its wake. But eventually a new establishment came into being, which we will call the meritocratic establishment.

These were the tame heirs to [Abbie] Hoffman and [Jerry] Rubin. They were well educated. They cut their moral teeth on the civil rights and feminist movements. They embraced economic, social and moral individualism. They came to dominate the institutions of American society on both left and right.

Hillary Clinton is part of this more educated cohort. So are parts of the conservative establishment. If you’re reading this newspaper, you probably are, too, as am I.

This establishment, too, has had its failures. It created an economy that benefits itself and leaves everybody else out. It led America into war in Iraq and sent the working class off to fight it. It has developed its own brand of cultural snobbery. Its media, film and music industries make members of the working class feel invisible and disrespected.

So in 2016, members of the outraged working class elected their own Abbie Hoffman as president. Trump is not good at much, but he is wickedly good at sticking his thumb in the eye of the educated elites. He doesn’t have to build a new culture, or even attract a majority. He just has to tear down the old one.
The two "planets" Brooks describes are 1) "the meritocratic establishment" and 2) "the outraged working class." According to Brooks, the snobbery of the "educated" tribe helped lead members of the "outraged" tribe to elect Donald J. Trump.

That strikes us as fairly sound history. Across the page, a member of that "educated" meritocratic establishment was publishing her first piece as a New York Times columnist.

On the down side, it didn't take long for Goldberg to display the snobbery to which Brooks alludes. Just search on "provincial," an unfortunate word she employs as she describes those same two political tribes.

We'd call that a down side to Goldberg's column. On the other hand, her column, judged as a whole, is extremely instructive.

Goldberg writes about the way our political system is breaking down. She focuses on the outsize political power wielded by the red tribe at the expense of the blue.

At the present time, our Constitution favors the smaller of our planets / nations/ tribes. This smaller tribe is granted disproportionate power in the Senate and in the Electoral College.

We've written about this problem down through the years. In her first column for the Times, Goldberg lays it out in stark detail:
GOLDBERG (9/26/17): Our Constitution has always had a small-state bias, but the effects have become more pronounced as the population discrepancy between the smallest states and the largest states has grown. “Given contemporary demography, a little bit less than 50 percent of the country lives in 40 of the 50 states,” Sanford Levinson, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Texas, told me. “Roughly half the country gets 80 percent of the votes in the Senate, and the other half of the country gets 20 percent.”

The distortion carries over to the Electoral College, where each state’s number of electors is determined by the size of its congressional delegation.
This would matter less if the United States weren’t so geographically polarized. But America is now two countries, eyeing each other across a chasm of distrust and contempt. One is urban, diverse and outward-looking. This is the America that’s growing. The other is white, provincial and culturally revanchist. This is the America that’s in charge.

Twice in the last 17 years, Republicans have lost the popular vote but won the presidency, and it could happen again. In July, Senator Sherrod Brown told The Washington Post, “It’s not out of the question that in 2020, if nothing changes, Democrats could win the popular vote by five million and lose the Electoral College because of the Great Lakes states.” He meant that as a warning to Democrats to pay attention to the Midwest. But it could just as easily be taken as a warning about the stability of our democracy.
Within that passage, Goldberg describes our warring tribal planets, referring to them as "two countries." She also describes a major political problem:

Because of our faltering Constitutional system, the minority tribe is persistently getting the majority of the power. She goes on to say that "[p]olls already show a third of Californians favor secession," due to their disgust with this absurd situation.

(We note that she doesn't accuse these Californians of "treason." Throughout the course of "human" history, insults like these have generally been restricted to those in the other tribe.)

Brooks and Goldberg are each describing a terrible breakdown within our devolving nation:

Brooks says it's like we're different planets, and that President Donald J. Trump is trying to drive these planets even farther apart. Goldberg says we're now "two countries," and that the smaller country, the one with the disproportionate power, elected this Donald J. Trump.

Goldberg's column is very sharp. In its unblinking seriousness, it stands in contrast to the simpering columns of Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins, columnists who have embodied the New York Times' weird, relentless throwback culture in the realm of gender.

Goldberg is going to write real columns, just like the gentlemen do! Dowd and Collins have spent many years writing silly, simpering, hiss-spitting columns which seem to have emerged from the "Women's Page" culture of the 1950s.

A throwback culture is being pierced as Goldberg ascends to the Times' op-ed page. On the other hand, we know what she did last summer—actually, in the spring of 2015—to gain access to this vaunted journalistic real estate.

Goldberg is an "educated" member of that meritocratic elite. Her past conduct helps explain how Donald J. Trump ended up in the White House, where he seems to be trying to start the war which would stop meritocracy in its tracks, perhaps for the next several centuries.

(Have the gods on Olympus sent the ruins in Puerto Rico as a bit of dramatic foreshadowing?)

Brooks and Goldberg wrote very sharp columns today. That said, Goldberg's presence in the Times, and the "snobbery" to which Brooks alludes, help explain how we've reached thew point where our planets may soon explode.

Tomorrow: LeBron James tries to explain

Collins welcomes Goldberg aboard: Trigger warning: involuntary gagging may ensue

Who is Nina Jankowicz!


Inquiring minds wanted to know:
Who the heck is Nina Jankowicz?

Inquiring minds were asking today. They were reacting to her op-ed column in the New York Times, in which she pondered the success of Russia's "information war."

At one point, Jankowicz wondered why so many people believed the disinformation and "fake news" which emerged from Russian sources last year. We thought this part of her discussion had a remarkably clueless feel:
JANKOWICZ (9/25/17): What no one seems to care to discuss is the people who are targets of Russian disinformation, why its narratives find fertile ground among them and what can be done to change that.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 20 percent of Americans trust their government. The same low percentage has “a lot” of trust in the national news media. It’s impossible to say definitively what causes this mistrust, but its growth has coincided with the rise of both the adrenaline-driven internet news cycle and the dying of local journalism over the past two decades. Without news that connects people to their town councils or county fair, or stories that analyze how federal policies affect local businesses, people are left with news about big banks in New York and dirty politics in Washington.

Readers compare this coverage with their dwindling bank balances and crumbling infrastructure and feel disconnected and disenfranchised, and latch onto something—anything—that speaks to them. That might be President Trump’s tweets. Or dubious “news” from an extreme right- or left-wing site might ring true. Or they might turn to Russian disinformation, which exploits this trust gap.
We agree with Jankowicz on one basic point. It's impossible to say, with perfect precision, why Americans may not trust their traditional, mainstream news sources.

That said, Jankowicz's attempt to explain this situation is utterly sophomoric. Why do many Americans tend to mistrust traditional media? Jankowicz cited exactly two reasons:
1) The rise of the "adrenaline-fueled" Internet news cycle.
2) The dying of local journalism over the past two decades. Not enough reports about county fairs!
She offered those explanations, and nothing else. Where does the Times find these people?

In this case, the Times offered a partial answer, saying that Kankowicz is "a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute.

We'll offer more info below. First, let's consider two other obvious sources of mistrust in traditional media.

Duh! Over the past five decades, starting perhaps with President Nixon, conservatives and Republicans have waged a relentless war against the alleged "liberal bias" of major mainstream news orgs.

Whatever you think of their claims and complaints, this GOP-sponsored crusade has played an obvious, outsized role in breeding mistrust of traditional media. Who in the world doesn't know this?

That said, there's a second possible reason for mistrust in the media. Is it possible that people mistrust traditional media because these news orgs have done a lousy job on an array of topics?

Hint: Actually no, that isn't possible, not in a Times op-ed column!

Here's the survey in which "only 20 percent of Americans" say they have "a lot of" trust in national media. In that same survey, an additional 52 percent said they had "some" trust in national media.

(Twenty-two percent said they had "not too much" trust. Six percent said "none at all.")

We would have said we had "some" or "not too much" trust in the media too. Why wouldn't we say we have "a lot of" trust?

Duh! Because of the lousy job the press corps does on an array of topics! Also, because of guest columns in major papers like the one Jankowicz wrote!

In this morning's column, Jankowicz never mentions the propaganda war conducted by conservatives over the past fifty years. She never brooks the possibility that people don't trust traditional media because the traditional media do a poor job.

Instead, she takes out the flag and tells us this:
JANKOWICZ (continuing directly): All is not lost. Disinformation can be defeated without the establishment of a shiny new initiative cased in the language of Cold War 2.0. Instead of “rapid information operations,” the United States should work to systematically rebuild analytical skills across the American population and invest in the media to ensure that it is driven by truth, not clicks.

The fight starts in people’s minds, and the molding of them. In K-12 curriculums, states should encourage a widespread refocusing on critical reading and analysis skills for the digital age. Introductory seminars at universities should include a crash course in sourcing and emotional manipulation in the media. Similar courses could be created as professional development for adults, beginning with state employees. Large corporations could be offered government incentives to participate, too.

Training like this has a proven track record. In Ukraine, IREX, a nongovernmental organization, trained 15,000 people in critical thinking, source evaluation and emotional manipulation. As a result, IREX measured a 29 percent increase in participants who double check the news they consume.
Jankowicz seems to assume that "critical reading skills" will tend to make people trust traditional media more. It doesn't seem to occur to her that critical reading skills might make citizens trust orgs like the New York Times less.

(Why do we trust Rachel Maddow much less than other liberals? Because, over the past nine years, we've routinely "double-checked" her work! The results are rarely good.)

Jankowicz goes on to say that the federal government "should also work to level the information playing field, increasing its investment in public broadcasters." Again, we're not entirely sure what that means. But as presently constituted, NPR and PBS are frequently part of the problem, trust in the media-wise.

Plainly, it would be a very good thing if fewer people fell for crazy disinformation campaigns from covert Russian sources. But over the course of the past several decades, crazy disinformation campaigns have often proceeded from within the very mainstream press which Jankowicz seems to think we should be trusting more.

Starting with that ridiculous account of the public's loss of trust, this column struck us as the type of transparent propaganda which makes some people lose faith in orgs like the New York Times. "Who the heck is this Jankowicz?" one of the analysts cried.

Here we go again! She's six years out of Bryn Mawr (class of 2011). (After that, she spent two years getting a master's degree.) In our view, that makes her a very young "Kennan Fellow"—and a slightly starry-eyed Kennan Fellow to boot.

Despite her tender years, Jankowicz seems well-versed in the type of true-believing twaddle news orgs like the Times may want to present to the world. In fairness, the youngster may be completely sincere. That may be part of the problem.

Our elite institutions are full of bright young kids who seem eager to prop up establishment guilds. They may be completely sincere, but they're also quite young, and exploitable.

Why don't people trust the press? Kennan Fellow, please! We'll guess it isn't the lack of reporting about those county fairs!



Part 5—By tribal law, survey says Only One Thing:
Why do people answer survey questions the way they do?

More specifically, why did people answer that one survey question in that "deplorable" manner? We refer to the question shown below, a question from last year's General Social Survey:
Question from the General Social Survey:
"On the average African-Americans have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most African-Americans just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
According to Hillary Clinton, responses to that survey question establish her claim that half of Donald J. Trump's supporters were "deplorable," perhaps "irredeemable."

In her new book, What Happened, Clinton describes her claim as "well-documentated reality." According to Clinton, the documentation is found in these responss:
Responses by non-black Republicans:
Yes: 53.1 percent
No: 43.1 percent
Don't know: 3.7 percent

Responses by Republicans overall:
Yes: 53.3 percent
No: 42.8 percent
Don't know: 3.9 percent
Were half of Donald J. Trump's supporters "deplorable," perhaps "irredeemable?" Mother Courage has said, in a published book, that yes, they actually were, she was right about that all along!

It's "well-documented reality," she has said, based on those responses. Over Here in our liberal tents, we have been made very glad.

In our view, there's a minor problem with that attempt at documentation. It stems from the large numbers of other respondents who answered that survey question in the exact same way.

Below, you see the way African-American respondents answered that question last year. After that, we offer a fuller set of percentages, showing how many members of various groups gave the deplorable answer:
Responses by African-Americans:
Yes: 46.3 percent
No: 51.3 percent
Don't know: 2.4 percent

Percentages giving the deplorable answer:
Republicans: 53.3 percent
Hispanics: 46.9 percent
Blacks: 46.3 percent
Whites: 39.8 percent
Democrats: 34.4 percent
We liberals can all feel good on one score! Among the specified groups, the highest percentage of Republicans gave the "deplorable" answer.

That said, blacks and Hispanics weren't far behind Clinton's "deplorable" group—and more than a third of Democrats gave the wrong answer too!

These numbers may start to suggest a problem with Clinton's sweeping denunciation of the very bad people Over There. They leave us asking that question again:

Why do people answer survey questions the way they do?

Let's get specific—why did so any black respondents answer that survey question that way? To state the obvious, we can't give you an answer to that. But it leads us to this next question:

Why didn't Hillary Clinton mention these numbers in her book? We'll give you the two most obvious possible answers:
1) She never reviewed the full data set.
2) She's happier when she calls The Others names.
In Answer 2, we encounter a capsule history of the trillion wars the human race has waged in the years since we crawled from the swamp. Answer 1 reflects the way our contemporary discourse tends to work.

Why did so many black respondents give the "wrong" answer to that survey question? Beyond the suggestions we've already trailed, we won't bother trying to answer.

We'll only say that "creative" questions of this type—"inkblot, Rorschach-style survey questions—may tend to generate much more heat than light. Over Here in our liberal tents, our more excitable tribal players have spent the past decade cherry-picking responses to survey questions in the way that was executed here:

We damn The Others for their responses. As we do, we lack the honesty to tell the world that our infallible, flawless selves strongy tended to answer the question the same darn way.

(We have especially tended to do this with survey questions on the so-called "social issues," where black and Hispanic respondents will often tend to give the same answers for which we damn Those Southern White Crackers as hopelessly backward and stupid. This can make it look like we aren't especially honest. More often, we're just too lazy, too dumb and too unskilled to have examined the full data sets. In fairness, these data sets are often withheld or disappeared by our fiery liberal "thought leaders.")

Why did so many people, in so many groups, answer that survey question that way? Why did so many blacks and Hispanics give the "deplorable" answer?

We don't know how to answer those questions. That said, we humans have a lot of images and ideas clanging around inside our heads. Having said that, we'll also say this:

Once you head down the road of telling us who is deplorable, you may have a very long hike trying to find your way back.

Ever since the dawn of time, members of tribal groups have been declaring The Others deplorable. In recent years, this has become a near-obsession Over Here, among our less than impressive, but self-impressed, liberal tribe.

We especially like to spot the racists! As has always been the norm, we tend to find them under every bed, just so long as we look Over There.

This need to denounce The Others is an age-old moral and intellectual sickness. We thought William Saletan may have had a minor case of this particular flu in this recent piece at Slate.

Saletan is perfectly smart. That said, his opening passage wasn't (headlines included):
SALETAN (8/29/17) What Trump Supporters Really Believe/
The president’s racist base, by the numbers

Since the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump has been curiously deferential to racists...

Why is Trump so solicitous of bigots? Conventional wisdom on the left says that it’s because he’s a bigot himself, and also because bigots are an important part of his base. But is that second part true? How many of Trump’s supporters are racists?

We may never know the full answer,
since many people don’t disclose their prejudices in surveys. But some do. And among Trump fans, that number turns out to be significant. Overt racists aren’t a decisive share of the electorate, but they’re a substantial part of the president’s coalition. And this gives them far more power than they would otherwise enjoy.
Saletan started with an earnest question and answer. "How many of Trump’s supporters are racists?" he asked.

"We may never know the full answer," he replied.

In our view, that was a saddening call-and-response. Of course we'll never know the full answer to that tribally thrilling question! Compare the question Saletan asks to a second possible question:
A tale of two possible questions:
How many of Trump’s supporters are racists?
How many of Trump’s supporters weigh more than 200 pounds?
In theory, that second question could be easily answered. In theory, we could produce an answer to which we'd all agree.

Saletan's question is different! We all agree on how you determine that someone weighs 200 pounds. We don't agree on how you determine if someone is a racist. There's no established way to form such a judgment—and when Saletan sifted through data from five recent surveys, we'd have to say that he seemed to end up doing some picking and choosing.

Saletan offered a perfectly viable hypothesis. Despite the suggestions lodged in those headlines, he ended up saying that the large majority of Trump supporters can't be shown to be "overt racists." But he said there were enough such people in Trump's base to explain Trump's solicitous behavior toward their kind.

That's a perfectly plausible thesis. We'll only say that Saletan seemed to do some picking-and-choosing when he displayed the survey results which let us know how many "overt racists" can be found Over There.

We'll cite one example, then quit. Here's one passage from Saletan, in which we're shown how many members of Trump's base are in fact "overt racists:"
SALETAN: In the Morning Consult poll, 3 percent of conservatives, 5 percent of whites, and 6 percent of Republicans admit to a favorable impression of neo-Nazis. Among people who strongly approve of Trump’s performance, the number goes up to 12 percent. Remember: These are the people who are willing to tell a pollster that they sympathize with Nazis. The poll doesn’t show how many others are concealing such views.
Among people who strongly approve of Trump's performance in office, 12 percent admitted to a favorable impression of neo-Nazis. Assuming that people understand the term "neo-Nazi," that does sound like a lot.

Please note, though: that's the number of neo-Nazi lovers among people who strongly approve of Trump's performance. Among the roughly equal number of people who somewhat approve of Trump's performance, the number of neo-Nazi lovers drops to five percent.

Overall, the number seems to be roughly 8.5 percent among people who approve to Trump's performance in office. And that still sounds like a lot!

That still sounds like a lot! That said, here are the numbers in that same survey for other groups of respondents:
Percentages who admitted to a favorable impression of neo-Nazis:
People who approve of Trump's performance: 8.5 percent

Liberals: 11 percent
Hispanics: 11 percent
Roman Catholics: 11 percent

Clinton voters: 8 percent
Trump voters 7 percent

Obama 2012 voters: 7 percent
Romney 2012 voters: 6 percent

Republicans: 6 percent
Democrats: 7 percent
We don't know why those people answered that question that way, but that's the way they answered. With that in mind, we can tell you that Saletan's data strike us as somewhat selective. Similar patterns obtain all through the five surveys from which he culled his data.

Our sainted mother often presented us with a stifling bromide when we were growing up. "Ask a silly question, you get a silly answer," she'd Delphically proclaim.

Our academicians tend to clog their surveys with a wide array of questions. Their questions may or may not be silly. But the selective way we use their data to attack The Others may seem deplorable, and utterly brainless, at times.

Saletan offered a perfectly sensible thesis. At the same time, it seemed to us that he was possibly cherry-picking the data he offered in support of that thesis—and yes, the question with which he began was perhaps a bit silly.

As for Clinton, she's adamantly refusing to say that her offhand remark last fall was unwise and unhelpful, full stop.
We fiery liberals have often said that Donald J. Trump can't admit when he's wrong. In the case of that remark by Clinton, he may have found a partner for doubles on our failing society's increasingly crowded courts.

Viebeck gets it (almost) right!


Maddow keeps pouring it on:
We thought about reviewing the Maddow Shows of the past two nights, in which a certain cable news star extended the culture of embellishment which has long since swamped her program.

There's a bag of squirrels inside this particular cable star's head, and the squirrels inside that bag just won't let her go. That said, reports about Maddow's constant embellishments can take a long time to formulate on an otherwise promising Saturday.

Let's look at Elise Viebeck's news report instead.

Viebeck's report appeared in Thursday morning's Washington Post. She addressed a nagging question, a question cable pundits have spent the past week avoiding:

Why do Republicans have to pass the Cassidy-Graham "health reform" bill by next Friday or not pass it at all? What sort of magic occurs on that particular date?

We thought Viebeck did a good job addressing this widely-glossed question. Near the start of her report, she formulated the question as shown below:
VIEBECK (9/21/17): [Republican leaders] face the challenge of persuading 50 people in the Senate to support [the bill] before the end of the month, which would set the stage for Vice President Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote.

There are many questions surrounding this process. But the timing is perhaps the chief source of confusion among congressional observers. Why is it necessary to pass the health-care bill by Oct. 1? Why do Republicans say they have to act in the next 11 days?
What kind of carriage turns into a pumpkin on October 1? By what type of necromancy does it take fifty votes to pass the bill now, but sixty votes to pass the bill after that magical date?

We've seen this question glossed on cable about a million times. (Explanations are boring, and hard! Speculation is fun!) We thought Viebeck, in her news report, (almost) got it right.

What happens on October 1? How does a need for fifty votes turn into a need for sixty?

You're asking a very good question. Among other things, Viebecks blames the folderol on "arcane Senate procedure," on the Senate's "mind-bending rules," on a ruling by the parliamentarian and on "conventional Senate wisdom."

Here's the releveant text from Viebeck's report, which left us with a few unanswered questions:
VIEBECK: The answer lies in a combination of Republican legislative strategy, arcane Senate procedure and ordinary partisan divisions.


McConnell and other Republicans can thank themselves for the deadline, which arose from their effort to pass health-care legislation without Democratic votes.

This is where the arcane Senate procedure comes in.

The Sept. 30 deadline exists because of a process known as budget reconciliation, which allows some fiscal measures to pass without the usual 60 votes. Republicans set this process in motion at the beginning of the year, when they passed a budget bill that included instructions for two committees to begin work on health-care legislation with the goal of saving federal revenue. By giving the health-care effort a fiscal goal, GOP leaders qualified that legislation to be passed by a simple majority.

But those instructions expire at the end of the fiscal year that’s covered under the budget bill. Senators could always write new instructions into their next budget, but they were planning to use that opportunity to direct a different legislative priority—tax cuts. Conventional Senate wisdom dictates that the chamber may consider only one legislative priority at a time under reconciliation.

Republicans would prefer to face no deadline at all. But these hopes were dashed on Sept. 1, when the Senate parliamentarian, who helps interpret the chamber’s mind-bending rules, said the GOP’s “reconciliation instructions” would end Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year. That is what McConnell mean when he said the opportunity will “expire” at the end of the month.
We're not going to summarize that. You'll have to do so yourself.

That said, we were left with two questions. First:

If reconciliation instructions expire at the end of the fiscal year, why did the Senate parliamentarian have to rule on this matter back on September 1? More significantly:

To what extent can "conventional Senate wisdom" actually "dictate" anything? If there's no explicit, unchangeable rule limiting reconciliation procedures to one topic per fiscal year, why won't McConnell simply brush conventional wisdom aside in the upcoming fiscal year? Why won't he simply say that health reform and tax reform will run on reconciliation?

We were left with that nagging question after reading Viebeck's report. On about a million occasions, we'd been left with incomprehension after watching our cable news stars. (Information is hard!)

Meanwhile, there was Maddow the last two nights, submitting to the many imperatives which seem to emerge from that bag of squirrels.

No one escapes from cable unharmed. Maddow has been transformed into an agent of squirrelly, ongoing distortions, entertainments and cons. We'll plan to give details next week.

Who is Elise Viebeck: She's eight years out of Claremont McKenna. As such, she's a ray of light within an often worrisome group—those youngish high-end reporters.



Interlude—The journey away from bountiful:
Long ago and far away, the first Candidate Clinton won the White House. Two times!

He did so when it had started to seem like Democrats would never get there again. In a letter in today's New York Times, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason recalls the documentary she shot as part of that first campaign.

The film appeared in 1992. It was called The Man From Hope.

In fairness, that first Candidate Clinton didn't have to run against Vladimir Putin. He didn't have to run against James B. Comey (Comey the God), who hadn't achieved godlike status yet and hadn't even served his term chasing around in search of the Whitewater pseudo-scandal.

He didn't have to run against Maureen Dowd, who didn't yet have a column. He didn't have to run against years of her previous broken-souled columns.

Alas! Along with everything else, the second Clinton had to run against twenty-four years of demonization and pseudo-scandal. She had to run in the face of the code of silence, according to which the career liberal world had never raised its voice, or really said boo, about all that demonization.

(Dearest darlings, use your heads! Careers had hung in the balance!)

All this being said, the first Candidate Clinton had to run against a pretty fair dose of The Major Dumb too. Much of its came from within the mainstream press, especially at the start of his primary campaign.

This included the invention, by the New York Times, of the Whitewater pseudo-scandal, the pseudo-scandal which gave its name to an entire era. It included a lot of silly stuff from a lot of silly people. (He said he didn't inhale!)

In the end, that first candidate prevailed. It's worth recalling some of the ways he managed to do so.

For starters, that film was called The Man From Hope, not Here Come Da Judge. As far as we know, he never offered an estimate of the number of fellow citizens who were deplorable, perhaps irredeemable, and thus on their way to Hell.

He adopted a more hopeful, welcoming tone, especially toward the tens of millions of people whose votes he hoped to attain:

He said we don't have a single person to waste. He said he wanted to work on behalf of people "who work hard and play by the rules."

His official campaign book bore this title: Putting People First. When those early attacks occurred in New Hampshire, he told Granite State voters that he would stand by them, in the face of the economic downturn, "until the last dog dies."

Years later, after two terms in the White House, he discussed his home state's white Pentecostals in his memoir, My Life. He discussed this particular home-state group long before quoting us on page 934, the climax of the book.

Long ago and far away,
we recommended that earlier portion of the first Clinton's book. As we said at the time, we think that portion of his book helps explain how the first Clinton managed to get to the White House.

It also helps us ponder the journey the liberal world has taken since then. It has been a natavistic journey—a trip away from bountiful.

Why was this ex-president talking about his home state's Pentecostals? His rumination started with his honeymoon trip to Haiti, where he and his wife observed voodoo ceremonies.

Why in the world did he bother with that? We'll let that first Clinton explain:
CLINTON (page 237): I describe my brief foray into the world of voodoo because I’ve always been fascinated by the way different cultures try to make sense of life, nature, and the virtually universal belief that there is a nonphysical spirit force at work in the world that existed before humanity and will be here when we all are gone. Haitians’ understanding of how God is manifested in our lives is very different from that of most Christians, Jews, or Muslims, but their documented experiences certainly prove the old adage that the Lord works in mysterious ways.
He said he was discussing that experience because he's always been fascinated by People Who Aren't Just Like Him!

Shortly after his honeymoo ended, this same first Clinton was campaigning all over Arkansas for the job of attorney general. He soon attended a black church event in which the Reverend Robert Jenkins was inaugurated as pastor of Morning Star Baptist:
CLINTON (page 249): As Robert got into his sermon, the temperature seemed to rise. All of a sudden an older lady sitting near me stood up, shaking and shouting, seized by the spirit of the Lord. A moment later a man got up in an even louder and more uncontrollable state. When he couldn’t calm down, a couple of the churchmen escorted him to a little room in the back of the church that held the church robes and closed the door. He continued to shout something unintelligible and bang against the walls. I turned around just in time to see him literally tear the door off its hinges, throw it down, and run out into the churchyard screaming. It reminded me of the scene at Max Beauvoir’s in Haiti, except that these people believed they had been moved by Jesus.
Already, our modern lizards are loudly complaining about this man's overt racism. In this deeply atavistic reaction, we modern liberals keep displaying our own prehistoric state. We modern liberals know very few things, but we know them amazingly well.

It's at this point in the first Clinton's book that he turns to the Pentecostals. “Not long afterward, I saw white Christians have similar experiences,” he writes, “when my finance officer...invited me to the annual summer camp meeting of the Pentecostals in Redfield, about thirty miles south of Little Rock.”

Clinton describes a life-long interest that grew from that first experience. “I made that summer camp meeting every summer but one between 1977 and 1992,” he writes. “Every year I witnessed some amazing new manifestations of the Pentecostals’ faith.”

For the record, we have no religious beliefs ourselves. Beyond that, this first Clinton isn't a Pentecostal.

Still and all, he took great interest in what he saw at those annual retreats. Did we mention the fact that this winning candidate was able to express affection and admiration for—was able to be fascinated by—People Who Weren't Just Like Him?

For Clinton, it wasn’t the ecstatic experiences of these white Pentecostals that mattered the most. In the following passage, we'd say this first Clinton reveals the breadth of spirit and curiosity that help explain how he got to the White House.

We'll highlight the main idea:
CLINTON (page 251): Far more important than what I saw the Pentecostals do were the friendships I made among them. I liked and admired them because they lived their faith. They are strictly anti-abortion, but unlike some others, they will make sure that any unwanted baby, regardless of race or disability, has a loving home. They disagreed with me on abortion and gay rights, but they still followed Christ’s admonition to love their neighbors.
They disagreed with that first Candidate Clinton on abortion and gay rights; they didn't vote for him much. But that first Clinton was able to "like and admire" Those People because of the ways he saw them living their faith.

“Besides being true to their faith, the Pentecostals I knew were good citizens,” he writes. “They thought it was a sin not to vote.” After describing a compromise he reached with Pentecostal ministers about the licensing of church-run child-care centers, Clinton concludes the rumination that began with that trip to Haiti:
CLINTON (page 252): Knowing the Pentecostals has enriched and changed my life. Whatever your religious views, or lack of them, seeing people live their faith in a spirit of love toward all people, not just your own, is beautiful to behold. If you ever get a chance to go to a Pentecostal service, don’t miss it.
Say what? This first Clinton was able to say that Those People enriched his life!

They didn't vote for this first Clinton much, but he said they'd enriched his life. He didn't tell us how they answered that GSS survey question.

Bill Clinton was portrayed as The Man From Hope. Whatever his shortcomings may have been, he knew how to see the good in Those People, The Others.

He said we didn't have a single one of Those People to waste. He didn't estimate the number of people who were on their way straight to Hell.

Not many years later, a markedly different attitude has seeped through the liberal world.

The second Candidate Clinton was forced to run against twenty-four years of demonization. Those demonizations had worked quite well, in large part because the Chaits, the Maddows, the Marshalls, the Dionnes had persistently let them stand.

She ran and hid in 2012, when they came after Susan Rice and invented the Benghazi narrative. She ran and hid in 2016, when Comey the God unsheathed his terrible swift sword and hardened the email narrative.

We're speaking here of Cable Star Maddow, not of Candidate Clinton. But along the way, the admiring attitude of that first Clinton had given way to the ugly strain in which our tribe turns to cable every night eager to gulp down the tribal gruel in which we're encouraged to dream—Yay yay yay yay!—that They'll all end up jail.

In which we're told that half of Them are headed for Hell. In which we're told it's been proven!

Bill Clinton was advertised as The Man from Hope. Seven years earlier, Geraldine Page had won an Oscar for taking The Trip to Bountiful.

In the years since 1992, we've been on a journey away from that place. We've been trained in a tribal mandate, in which we're required to loathe.

Tomorrow, we'll return to that damning question, the one on the GSS.

Tomorrow: Black and white together!

Another advice column hits the Times!


They at the Times want to serve us:
Somehow, we'd managed to miss the debut of the New York Times' latest advice column.

The Times has two such columns in the Sunday magazine—an ethics advice column by Professor Appiah, the Dear Abby of ethics advice, and a spoof advice column by "Dr. John Hodgman," who is either a comedian or a humorist, depending on what source you check.

(By general agreement, a "humorist" is a comedian whose audience isn't drunk.)

Well sir, the Times has also started a weekly advice column in the Thursday Styles section. The column is authored by Cheryl Strayed, "an American memoirist, novelist, essayist and podcast host," and by Steve Almond, "an American short-story writer, essayist and author of ten books." The column seems to have started in July.

The new advice column is called The Sweet Spot; Almond and Strayed are referred to as the Sugars. This begins to suggest a tie between the new advice column and the motto of the amazingly dumb new daily format the Times unveiled this summer for pages A2 and A3:
You are the dumbest people on earth.
We at the Times want to serve you.
Is the new advice column part of an overall dumbing-down, in which the Times is eager to show its willingness to meet us on our own level? We couldn't help wondering when we read the sexy-time letter which occasioned today's advice.

Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Be sure to note the dumber-than-dumb way the sexy-time letter is addressed:
I Love My Fiancé, but Am Totally Crushing on a Co-Worker

Dear Sugars,

I am a 26-year-old woman and recently engaged.
I struggle with anxiety and so I figure being anxious about my engagement is to be expected, right? My fiancé and I met at work. I'm a server at a restaurant, and he was the manager (he's since moved on to another job). We kept our relationship a secret at first. It was romantic, thrilling, passionate and hot. We'd stay up all night drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. Once we became a couple, we started prioritizing our goals. We eventually moved in together, and our life now revolves around saving money for a house and future family. I'm still in love with him, but there's definitely less sex. Though I couldn't bear to be without him, I also feel more platonic for him than I used to. Is that normal?

A new guy was hired at the restaurant recently, and I'm attracted to him and we flirt. He's the bad-boy type. He asked me to get a drink and I declined, but I told him I had a crush on him. He seemed shocked and thanked me for telling him. Now I'm embarrassed. If I pursued him and my fiancé found out, I'd deeply regret it. I fear I'm going to sabotage my relationship. I've realized this co-worker is a symbol of the lust and passion I don't have anymore. I know I have to move forward, but I miss the past. I'm scared of starting this part of my adult life.

Anxious Fiancée
Yum, but also yay! "Anxious Fiancee" wants to get it on with the new bad-boy type at work! She's asking the Sugars to help!

Is this new column a deliberate part of a general dumbing-down? We decided it was when we read the first sentence of each savant's initial reply to this seeker of good sound advice, who may or may not exist:
Steve Almond: You can do the math here, Anxious.


Cheryl Strayed: Steve's right that so much of answering this question has to do with figuring out how strongly you feel the sense of loss you describe, Anxious.
Each of the "Sugars" knew enough to nick-name the writer as "Anxious." We suspected that we were looking at a corporate pattern right there.

In theory, it shouldn't matter if a newspaper dumbs two of its first three pages down, then litters its various sections with further tributes to the time-honored gods of The Dumb.

In theory, it shouldn't matter. In practice, given our failing discourse, we feel fairly sure that it does.



Part 4—Now for the rest of the data:
Might Hillary Clinton have won the election last year if she hadn't made her ill-advised comment about (one segment of) the nation's many deplorables?

Everything is possible! Candidate Trump drew an inside straight in the electoral college, thanks to wins by narrow margins in three "Rust Belt" states. In an interview with Jane Pauley earlier this month, Clinton said she didn't think her "deplorables" statement flipped the election's outcome:
PAULEY (9/10/17) There were some memorable verbal gaffes, too.

CLINTON (videotape): You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

PAULEY: Why do you think that word "deplorable" had been circulating in your mind?

CLINTON: Well, I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner. I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable. I thought his behavior, as we saw on the Access Hollywood tape, was deplorable. And there were a large number of people who didn't care. It did not matter to them. And he turned out to be a very effective reality TV star in our presidential campaign.

PAULEY: When you said "basket of deplorables," you energized—

CLINTON: No, but they were already energized.

PAULEY: But you offended some people who who didn't personally feel deplorable at all.

CLINTON: Well, I don't—I don't buy that. I don't buy that. I`m sorry I gave him a political gift of any kind.

PAULEY: It was a gift.

CLINTON: But I don't think that was determinative.
Was Clinton's comment "determinative?" We'd guess it probably wasn't, though you can never be sure. But just for the record, Clinton's apparent chronology was a bit shaky in this interview with Pauley, in that her "deplorables" comment preceded the Access Hollywood tape by roughly a month.

(Conservatives have been widely informed about that apparent error in chronology. On conservative sites, this apparent error was characterized as Clinton's latest lie. Needless to say, this is how our brain-dead discourse now works.)

In this interview, Clinton acknowledged that her comment was a "political gift." It just wasn't a big enough gift to have moved a sufficient number of votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, she said.

Tomorrow, we'll compare the attitude behind her "deplorables" comment to the attitude behind some comments by her husband, who emerged as the winner of two White House elections. For today, though, we want to focus on her ongoing claim that her "deplorables" comment was actually right on the merits.

Was Clinton actually right when she said that half of Trump's voters were "deplorable/irredeemable?" She seems to make that remarkable claim in this part of her new book:
CLINTON (page 413): When I said, "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," I was talking about well-documented reality. For example, the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago found that in 2016, 55 percent of white Republicans believed that blacks are generally poorer than whites "because most just don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up and out of poverty." In the same survey, 42 percent of white Republicans described blacks as lazier than whites and 26 percent said they were less intelligent. In all cases, the number of white Democrats who said the same thing was much lower (though still way too high).

Generalizing about a broad group of people is almost always unwise. And I regret handing Trump a political gift with my "deplorables" comment." I know that a lot of well-intentioned people were insulted because they misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters. I'm sorry about that.

But too many of Trump's core supporters do hold views that I find—there's no other word for it—deplorable.
Were half of Trump's supporters "deplorable," possibly "irredeemable?" Remarkably, Clinton has doubled down on that sweeping assertion, absurdly saying that her judgment is a matter of "reality"—of well-documented reality, no less.

The documentation she cites mainly involves responses to an inkblot-style question on last year's General Social Survey (GSS). She cites the percentage of white Republicans who answered that question in the "deplorable" way, but gives the numbers for nobody else.

Today, we thought you ought to consider the way other demographic groups answered that GSS question. This brings us in contact with "well-documented" survey trends which generally get suppressed, at least Over Here in our self-satisfied tribe.

Once more, we'll show you the text of the GSS question at issue. In our view, it's a poorly composed, "inkblot"-style question. In our view, sensible people won't be inclined to answer such questions at all.

That said, the question has been asked as part of the GSS for at least forty years, and it's been widely answered. Here's the question which, according to Clinton, turns a sweeping "political gift" into a matter of "well-documented reality:"
Question from the General Social Survey:
"On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
That's the question the GSS asked. Now, let's take a look at the responses they garnred.

Clinton is basically right in the number she cited, perhaps perfectly so. As we noted earlier in the week, this is the way Republican respondents answered that GSS question last year:
Responses by Republicans overall:
Yes: 53.3 percent
No: 42.8 percent
Don't know: 3.9 percent
In last year's GSS survey, 53.3 percent of Republicans answered that question in the affirmative. On the basis of those answers, Clinton has doubled down on the claim that those people are "deplorable," and she seemed to say, last fall, that they're "irredeemable" too.

In her book, she says that condemnation isn't a matter of (rather poisonous) opinion. She says it's simple "reality"—"well-documented" reality at that!

Personally, we find her statement astonishing—astoundingly dumb on the actual merits, amazingly dumb on the politics. We say that in part because we've looked at people's responses to many such questions down through the years, including the wider range of responses to that GSS question last year.

Fifty-three percent of Republicans gave the deplorable answer. Today, for whatever it may be worth, let's examine the way other demographic groups answered that ill-advised question.

Let's start with us the people as a whole. Here's the way three large groups of respondents answered:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:
All respondents: 41.5 percent
U.S. citizens: 39.7 percent
Democrats: 34.4 percent
For now, let's take the most simple-minded analytical approach. If 53 percent of Republicans are deplorable, it looks like 34 percent of Democrats are deplorable too. So are 40 percent of citizens overall.

Such judgments can always be reached. But at this point, we've already encountered an important piece of "reality"—on the whole, Democrats and Republicans answered that question the same way. There was much more agreement than disagreement among respondents from the two light-v-dark groups.

It's certainly true that fewer Democrats turn out to be deplorable. But if half Trump's voters were deplorable, so were a third of Clinton's. It seems unwise to damn the half without even citing the third.

Certain eternal verities emerge in the fuller data set. As usual, women turn out to be less deplorable than men. Here are the relevant numbers:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:
Women: 41.1 percent
Men: 41.9 percent
Adopting the most simple-minded interpretation, Clinton finds that 42 percent of men are deplorable, but only 41 percent of women!

Finally, we reach the part of the show which almost always get suppressed by the array of jugglers and clowns who serve as liberal sachems. How did respondents from our three largest "racial" groups answer that GSS question? If we adopt a simple-minded analysis, those heinous white Republicans may not look quite so bad:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:
Whites: 39.8 percent
Blacks: 46.3 percent
Hispanics: 46.9 percent
As usual, white supremacy rules! Among our three largest "racial" groups, the smallest percentage of white respondents gave the deplorable answer. Just to put these numbers in context, let's sift the data like this:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:
Republicans: 53.3 percent
Blacks: 46.3 percent
Hispanics: 46.9 percent
Hurray! Republicans are still the most deplorable group. But if we adopt the most straightforward analytical standard, blacks and Hispanics are almost as bad!

At this point, we confront a question which may seem puzzling. Why did almost fifty percent of black respondents answer that survey question in the deplorable manner?

Lizard brains across the country will quickly be able to answer that question in a way which preserves the manifest greatness of Clinton's denunciation of The Others. That said, the most honest answer to that question would be this:
Why did so many black respondents answer that survey question that way?
If you really want to find out, you'll pretty much have to ask them!
At any rate, 46 percent of black respondents gave the deplorable answer! So did 47 percent of Hispanics! Even men are better than that!

By the way:

What did all these people say when they were asked about the ability of other groups to overcome their manifest laziness and work their way out of poverty? As we noted at the start of the week, the GSS didn't ask! Who's deplorable now?

Why did all these people answer that inkblot question in the deplorable way? Tomorrow, we'll ponder that question awhile.

In the meantime, we'll only note this:

In her book, Clinton condemns half of Trump's supporters to Hell based on their response to that GSS question. Almost half of all black respondents answered the same darn way!

Tomorrow: Those Arkansas Pentecostals in an earlier day

Concerning the GSS data we've cited: For starters, you can click on this. After that, you should click on "Table."

From there, you're on your own. Note choices under "Breakdown."